Over the past few years, a transformation has been happening in the south-western Polish city of Wrocław, the capital of the Lower Silesian region. The post-industrial land between ulica Strzegomska, ulica Robotnicza and ulica Góralska in west Wrocław has become the city’s business district and it now boasts a new icon; the Carbon Tower office building by developer Cavatina Holding S.A. The building features systems by ALUPROF S.A. and, with its distinctive form, it opens a new chapter in the story of Wrocław’s urban architecture.

Architecture has charted the directions taken as cities and towns develop for centuries. The Carbon Tower, with its standout, triangular shape and exceptional, glazed façade built using innovative systems by ALUPROF, triggers associations with what is now an iconic American building, the Flatiron in New York. Constructed at the beginning of the twentieth century, the Flatiron has appeared in countless films and adverts and has become a symbol of Manhattan’s central business district. That office building, which was designed for a tricky plot of land and hailed as one of the world’s first skyscrapers, set the standards for construction at the time and played havoc with architectural conventions, while becoming a natural part of the urban fabric. Much the same can be said of the newly erected Carbon Tower, which was designed by Piotr Jasiński, the director of Catavina Holding’s design department.

Jasiński explains that:

Every building we design is different, recognisable. It’s important to us to create buildings that, on the one hand, are visually and functionally distinctive and, on the other hand, become an inherent part of the urban context. So, during the design process, the neighbourhood plays a significant role, as does the history and urban potential of the surrounding area.

The systematic approach to design applied by the architects at Cavatina Holding is clearly exemplified in the Carbon Tower. First, the plot of land is studied to identify the construction conditions and prospective functionality since this is, in effect, what will determine the shape of the building. The building was destined for a triangular plot which afforded an opportunity for designing a dynamic and expressive form that would simultaneously serve as a distinguishing feature.

The building consists of a fifty-five-metre tower, which stands on the triangular plot, and a three-storey, rectangular section. A terrace of greenery has been created on the roof of the rectangular section and direct access from the office section has been provided. It is not only the uncommon shape of the building that draws the eye, though. The glass elevation, which was made by Dohal, is also an attention catcher.

Glass façades. The hallmark of contemporary buildings

The glazed façades of modern buildings provide what seems like almost unrestricted access to the outside world. They reflect the greenery around them superbly, meld into the surrounding landscape and vanish against the backdrop of the sky. In the evening, they glow with a hypnotic, interior light, creating a fascinating and inimitable composition.

As Piotr Jasiński puts it:

The use of fully glazed façades makes it obligatory to be absolutely precise in thinking through the form of the building, its proportions, partitions and details. Nowadays, state-of-the-art technology enables us to create smooth, apparently uninterrupted elevations using large-scale sheets of glass. That's what makes it possible to dispense with wide joins and profiles and go for slender window bars that are invisible to passers-by.

Guaranteeing the comfort of a building’s users comes at the design stage, when it is crucial to stipulate façades with the highest of technical parameters. This is why ALUPROF’s MB-SR50N mullion and transom system was used for the Carbon Tower. The system makes it possible to create a striking façade with visible, slender dividing lines and, at the same time, to ensure a solid, hard-wearing structure. The wide range of mullion and transom profiles is undoubtedly a distinguishing factor, as is the wealth of accessories and connectors offered by the company. All this means that an increased load-bearing capacity can be obtained, with the pane for a single, fixed-size module weighing up to 1 100 kilos.

The system also provides both considerable freedom in designing the attachment points for a façade and the opportunity to use large-scale sheets of glass. The scale of the glazing, combined with the range of insulators and accessories available, makes it possible to create façades with a high thermal insulation parameter.

The MB-SR50N offers curved profiles, as well, which makes it well-suited to the construction of arches. In addition, the shape of the mullion and transom profiles means that a load-bearing façade with a uniform, chequerboard appearance on the interior can be constructed. This also simplifies the process of creating precise, aesthetic connections with other elements of a building, such as suspended ceilings and interior partitioning.

The Carbon Tower also features the ALUPROF MB-86US window and door system, which is noteworthy both for its high thermal and acoustic insulation and for its water- and airtight properties. When the system is used, the resulting structure is distinctive for its appearance. The profile of the window or door is tucked away behind the profile of the jamb, while the panes of glass are fitted on one plane in fixed and opening windows alike. As a result, the fixed and opening lights look identical from the outside.

One more state-of-the-art system by ALUPROF was used in the Carbon Tower. The MB-70 is designed for creating external architectural elements where extremely good thermal and acoustic insulation parameters are required. It is used for a wide range of triple-glazed window and door types, including shop windows, and in diverse spatial structures. The shape of the profile makes it possible to obtain slender and durable constructions.

Bożena Ryszka, ALUPROF’s Marketing and PR Director, provides some details:

We use special thermal inserts and gaskets are used in our MB-70 system. This guarantees a low-U, or value heat transfer coefficient. At the same time, it provides the correct thermal isolation for all weather conditions. This is particularly important at present, when there are growing demands for buildings that are energy efficient and respect the need to protect the environment. The MB-70 is also the first system where the central gaskets are made using two-component, EPDM rubber, which not only demonstrates a high level of resistance to aging, despite the passage of time, but also offers excellent thermal insulation. The system’s additional functionality means that it can be used as the basis for building burglar-resistant windows and doors.

Aluminium is of particular importance not only to the construction of facades for contemporary buildings. Piotr Jasiński emphasises that:

We also use ALUPROF systems inside buildings for creating internalwalls, fire-resistantdoors, fire compartments and so on. Aluminium architectural systems are characterised by high parameters for safety and functionality, which is why they’re so readily used in public buildings. They also provide visual qualities... swathes of glazing inside a building create the impression of limitless space and they do so in a way that’s first and foremost safe, but is also attractive.

High standards

A major determinant of state-of the-art office construction lies in the ecological certificates it receives. A competitive market means that buildings really do need to put requirements in this area into practice at the highest levels. The Carbon Tower certainly shows its class in this sense, having been awarded a certificate with a rating of ‘Very Good’ under the BREEAM international, multi-criteria system for assessing green buildings. Some of the first questions asked by potential tenants concern environmental protection and staff-friendly working conditions. In order to meet expectations in this area, Cavatina Holdings have taken care to ensure that there is not only the greenery-filled patio, where the building’s users can relax, but also a wide range of services including a chemist’s, a kindergarten and a canteen.